The next morning, I woke up tired: Zeke had woken us a couple of times with crying and throw up, and by morning, we had draped his bed with towels, and the washing machine thundered with the soiled fitted sheets, pajamas, and blankets from the nighttime.
I opened my eyes, staring at a blurry ceiling and remembered in a flash that today we’d finally learn what was wrong with my eye. Just a few more hours of not knowing, I thought, and I sat up suddenly. Jeremy sighed and turned onto his stomach, burrowing his face into his pillow. I looked at my phone and saw a text from Kiley: “Can definitely still watch Hope. We’re planning on it. Keep me posted if anything changes.”
I smiled and whispered, “Thanks, God.”
Then I turned to Jeremy: “Kiley is coming at 8 to watch Hope,” I said, leaning over to press my lips into the nape of his neck.
“I’m getting up – we need to leave in an hour or so,” I said, rubbing his back briskly.
He breathed deeply and pushed himself up to sit on the side of the bed as I stepped to the floor and walked to my closet. I pulled down a black shirt, a skirt, and a sweater. I would not meet my surgeons today in sweatpants and gym shoes, thank you very much. I would not look like a patient, I determined.
As I leaned across the bathroom sink toward the mirror to put on makeup, Jeremy walked up the stairs. Then I heard a wail upstairs. “Poor Zeke,” I said to myself.
I sighed and decided to ignore all the intruding thoughts fighting for my attention – the fear, the anxiety, the anger – and instead I fought for silence as I brushed my eyelashes with mascara: my slow breathing became a wordless prayer for help.
Kiley knocked on our front door at 8. I opened the door, and she stood on our front stoop, balancing her son on her right hip with one arm wrapped around him and another holding a bag.
“Hi, friend,” she said. “How are you doing?”
“Baby J—!” Hope said, grinning from her seat at the table, a plate of untouched scrambled eggs in front of her. She was still wearing her dinosaur footie pajamas.
“Hey, Kiley,” I said, giving her a hug.
She walked into the dining room, and we discussed what the day might look like. Then as Jeremy and I gathered our things to leave, I said, frowning, “I really hope you all don’t get sick.”
“Don’t even worry about it, Liz,” she said. I smiled at her, relieved and grateful, trying to accept the gift.
“Thank you,” I said.
Jeremy and I walked to the car. We adults brought coffee mugs and backpacks with us – Jeremy’s held several changes of clothes for Zeke, towels, trash bags, and water. Zeke grasped his Woody the Cowboy doll with two hands as Jeremy carried him to the car. He buckled Zeke into his car seat, and I started the car. Once we’d settled in, I backed out of the driveway.
We drove in silence for several minutes down my favorite street, the one lined with mansions – some Victorian, others art deco – and towering oak trees. The sun passed through the branches and hit the road in speckled patterns.
We drove the Civic we had been gifted by Joel and Morgan only a month ago after our Subaru, the one we’d already spent thousands to repair, had failed Denver’s emissions test at a time when our savings account registered near zero.
We passed through one light, then five, and Zeke began to sing. As Woody danced in his hands, we heard his “Yee-haws” on repeat. I caught Jeremy’s eye and smiled: I could see mercy all around us.
We passed through another light, and I said, “Can you pray for me this morning?”
Jeremy nodded, and took a slow drink out of his mug. He said, “God, we ask that you’d help us. This feels like too much right now.” He sighed.
I joined in: “Go with us to this appointment.”
Jeremy continued: “We pray for total healing for Liz’s eye.” He paused. Then: “We pray that the doctors would be willing to work with us. We ask you to provide for us.”
I nodded and yawned, my chest expanding. I breathed in the calm of this moment, beneath the canopy of light, the spontaneous singing and prayer, peace breaking into chaos like waves washing over a beach, the presence of God palpable.
“We need your help,” I prayed. Jeremy nodded. I sighed. “I guess that’s it – that’s all I can think of. And thanks,” I said. I looked at Jeremy and he squeezed my hand.
He said, “Amen.”
This post is part of my “Through A Mirror Dimly” series about a recent health issue I’ve been experiencing. I started telling this story during the season of Lent as a way to make sense of the ways that my own suffering teaches me about the suffering of Jesus Christ.
I also invite you to engage with your own suffering through this series: how does your personal pain illuminate the suffering of Jesus for you? And what can your pain teach you about the life of faith?
ALSO I will be concluding this series soon so I can resume telling my falling-in-love story. Just a few more posts to go until this will be complete (for now - though I think it's probably turned into a book project by now, nearly 11,000 words into writing!). I'd love to hear what you thought of the series – comment away!